A thousand words won’t bring you back, I know because i’ve tried, neither will a million tears, I know because i’ve cried. -Anonymous

“It’s so curious:  one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief.  But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.”  ~Colette

The last couple of weeks have been easy, too easy. It’s only been twenty-six days since my Dad died, but it feels like its been longer. It feels like a lifetime already, and yet at the same time it still feels like the day before. That doesn’t make any sense, does it? That’s okay, I don’t get it either.

It hit me a bit harder today. I took the afternoon off work to do some things around the house, and organize some of Dad’s paperwork in preparation for some calls I need to make soon. While I was sorting through things, I decided to open a box the funeral home sent over. I wanted to see the list of people who signed their names in the book, I wanted to know who was sitting behind me when I was too afraid to turn around and look. I was impressed by the list, but it was the envelope full of sympathy cards I found inside that did me in. It’s always the unsuspecting that strikes. My Aunt re-telling a story from my cousin, about my Dad visiting him in the hospital and bringing him chocolate bars when he broke his leg… and a family who lived down the street from where I grew up, telling me that Dad had kept them up-to-date on our lives and they wished us the best. And then I pressed play on the DVD slideshow of photographs that the funeral home had put together, and it was beautiful. So many pictures of my Dad, happy and energetic and alive.

Today it hit me just a little bit more.

I spent so much time before, feeling resentful towards my parents and wondering how I would navigate a future relationship with my Dad. I’d wondered if I had children someday, how I could let them have a heathy relationship with him. It was all pointless though, because I don’t get to have a future with him, and neither will they.

I’d always known my Dad wouldn’t live to be one hundred, and there was a time in my teens I spent worrying he would die, but these past few years… he’d seemed better. He seemed healthier and maybe not entirely happy but happier none the less. I’d stopped worrying about losing him and worried about keeping him instead. And then he was gone, just like that. One minute I was scolding myself for forgetting to check in with him and the next I was sitting in my car in the shoe store parking lot with my phone to my ear, listening to my Grandfather tell me he was dead. He was fifty-two.

The realizations hit me slowly, if they’ve hit me at all yet. My Dad will never see me get married, my brother will have to walk me down the aisle instead. I’ll never again open up one of his tacky but thoughtful Christmas presents, and I can’t get mad at him for his smoking habits anymore. I’ve been begging my Dad to quit for years, it took him dying for me to get my wish.

In my jewelry box is this silver watch my Dad gave me a few years ago. I don’t wear it because I have nicer, more expensive watches, but I’ve always kept it because my brother told me about how Dad had drug him around from store to store one year, trying to find the perfect present for me. Dad didn’t have a lot of money, but he knew me and he loved spoiling me when he could. He was like my Grandma like that, full of thoughtfulness and love. When I was a teenager, for one of my birthdays, he got me this purple toned picture of a dolphin, in a gold frame. It’s hanging on my bedroom wall. These things, may not be very expensive… but in the instant my Dad died, their sentiment increased. Along with some photographs, and a couple father’s day cards I found tucked in his files, these things are all I have left of him. Just material possessions. I’ll treasure them dearly for the rest of my life, but they won’t ever replace his bear-hugs, or the sound of his voice when he said “I love you, Princess”.

Somehow now, I have to figure out how to navigate life without him. I’ve got to keep on keeping on, all the while waiting for the unexpected surge of emotion to strike. I’ve got to learn to look at my brother and not be surprised when I see flashes of Dad, and learn to take comfort in their presence instead. I’ve got to figure out how to smile every time I miss him. I’ve got to trust that he’s with Grandma now, watching over us. I guess I’m just not really sure how this is going to pan out. Losing people is not a new concept for me, but it’s not the same this time. I just don’t understand this at all.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”  ~Kahlil Gibran

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21 thoughts on “A thousand words won’t bring you back, I know because i’ve tried, neither will a million tears, I know because i’ve cried. -Anonymous

  1. My name is Jessica & i lost my dad on December 17, 2012 after battling with pancreatic cancer for 8 months. My father was 50 years old when he passed away (I am 22). When I read your story i could not belive their is someone else out there going through exactly what I am. I was more composed about the situation than i ever thought possible. When my mother called me I broke down and felt a heaviness fall upon my heart, at his funeral i went in alone and when i saw him lying there as if hes just peacefully sleeping i cried so hard pain radiated throughout my body. I cried when they closed the casket and when they buried him, since then the tears do not come. As a child i always said to myself if my parents pass before me i will end my life too (sounds crazy but i was young my parents were my EVERYTHING). I live with my fiance for over a year now so i guess not being there through every moment with him made it a little easier to let go. Sometimes it just feels like we just didn’t get a chance to hang out in a while & i pretend he is still around. The reality sets in when i want to call him and know that i can not. I have a voicemail saved on my phone that he left me for my birthday – it gets harder and harder to listen to it without a pain in my heart. I live my days as i always would but the emptiness always sets in at the most random times…When it snowed i wanted to call him….When i was planning a trip to Atlantic city i wanted to call him….random little things (its hard). The tears dont come but the pain sets in. Sometimes i have to fight tears at work when someone talks about their dad all i can think is that i can not make anymore memories i have no more time. Everything that i had before is all i have left. I wish i saw him more often. He was getting sicker and sicker he stopped coming out with my mom and i on weekends. He was gettign weak and i was selfish it was hard for me to see him like that. We were extremely close he was the kindest strongest man i know! Just writing this i cant believe i do not have anymore, it feels so unreal so unnatural. Mom & dad has turned into Mom , my mom the widow i cant even imagine how it is for her. The person she spent 20 years with …. gone….just like that. She had to watch him get sicker and weaker the nurse mistook him for HER father. I can’t even write this without fighting back tears, thats when they come when i force myself to think and rememebr and feel. I got so good at pushing feelings aside and hiding my pain. Sometimes it brings me happiness remembering….but most of the time it does not. I can not belive its been only a few weeks it feels like an eternity. I got distgustingly used to not seeing him as often that its easy to pretend hes home. But i cant call him, it got to the point where he couldn’t stand on his own or breath on his own and he didnt speak and didn’t know who anyone was. I saw him on Saturday, he looked right through me, ME his baby girl he didnt know who i was. My mom was in denial saying he’ll get better its just a bad phase. On tuesday he passed away in a hospital alone – my mom was on her way to see him that day and got the call in the car just before she walked in. She called me and my world shattered and broke and since then was never the same and will never be. I find solice in knowing he is no longer in pain. The most amazing, heart loving, funny, strong person has been taken from this world and from being my father he has now became my guardian angel! Thanks for sharing your story with the world it was time for me to do the same. <3

  2. Thank you so much for your words. I even used the poem you quoted on my Dad’s flowers. My Dad also only just passed away and I definitely get the feeling of being lost in time. Is it just before or just after I can’t tell. I too am waiting for the tidal wave but feel strangely disconnected.I wish you all the best. Thank you x

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